by Richard Moss
People frequently consult me for guidance at difficult moments in their lives. As I listen, it is easy to understand their fears and the complicated and conflicting desires for which there are no obvious resolutions. It is easy to understand what they are reacting to, saying "no" to. But what is harder to hear, if it is at all discernible, is what they are saying "yes" to. This is truly the root of our human confusion and pain. Too many people navigate through life directed by their nos, without realizing the deeper yes in their hearts. They do not have the spiritual keel that helps them hold a true course through lifes many confusing currents.
Recognizing "no" is easy. It is wherever you meet unhappiness, frustration, or suffering and immediately begin to distrust your direction and want to change course or turn back. We say "no" to every kind of dissatisfaction and then make plans and choices designed to bring us toward what we imagine will satisfy us. But choices coming from "no" without realizing our true "yes" are usually poor choices. Fulfillment doesnt reside in merely avoiding fears or satisfying desires. At the end of a life of steering away from one "no" after another, seeking one satisfaction after another, we find ourselves and our lives barren. You cannot fulfill your life purpose traveling in this way.
Whereas most people can readily feel what they are saying "no" to, a true "yes" is a realization that emerges from a skillful inquiry into yourself. A true "yes" is a positive relationship with your innermost self that gives you clarity and strength. When you understand "yes," you know who you are.
Often, however, it is fear that masquerades as "yes," not the simple felt truth of yourself. The false "yes" is propped up with all kinds of conditions and demands, and wants to control the hearts and minds of others, alert for anything that might upset the delicate equilibrium of control. How do you know that you have found "yes"? The answer is in the body, in a sense of stillness and well-being that is not contingent on circumstances. The true "yes" rests in your simple availability to life, moment by moment. When you find this "yes," the mind relaxes; strategies for control and approval and security fall away. Life becomes what it is sometimes easeful, sometimes challenging but you are not without an inner compass; difficulties arent so threatening, nor your responses so chaotic.
Choices coming from "no" without realizing our true "yes" are usually poor choices.
What I call the "circle of understanding" is at once a process of a deepening recognition of the real "yes" to life, a movement of ever-deepening faith in your real self, and, simultaneously, an earnest inquiry into the subtle architecture of "no," into all the ways in which you avoid relationship to yourself. From whence the doubt that poisons our minds, the anger that darkens our hearts, the fear that contracts our bodily life force? This is inquiry into every aspect of contraction around the ego-I, so that you come to understand that the notion that your whole or deepest self is not the "I" that exists as an exclusively private, separate, psychic entity.
As you approach your core self, you simultaneously suffer the distance from that self. But to suffer this distance consciously, with insight and tools for understanding it, is to already be returning home. This is the grace and gift of this "circle." It is a work that progressively brings you to faith in yourself, from which you become an instrument for the transmission of faith to others. The alchemy of love is the basis of the transmission of faith. When our hearts are open to each other, then my faith imbues and inspires yours and your openness and receptivity to yourself deepens my faith.
It is the extent to which we each make "yes" live in our hearts that is our true legacy to ourselves and our world. What are you saying "yes" to?
Since 1972, Richard Moss, M.D. has led transformational workshops that explore spiritual awakening and its integration into daily life. His books include The Black Butterfly, The Second Miracle, and, most recently, Words That Shine Both Ways. Dr. Moss is leading a weekend workshop in Seabeck, WA December 3-5, sponsored by The Association for Humanistic Psychology. For information, call (800) 647-0755.